Massa beats Hamilton to first Singapore pole by half a second

2008 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

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Felipe Massa will start Formula 1’s first ever night race in Singapore from pole position after taking pole position by over half a second.

Lewis Hamilton will join him on the front row despite suffering a scare in the second part of qualifying where he was almost eliminated for the second race in a row.

Part one

The Force India mechanics faced a race against time to get Giancarlo Fisichella on the track following his crash in practice. He did manage to get out – but went off again at turn three, although it looked as though it may have been caused by a mechanical fault.

The McLarens were quickest to start with as Ferrari lagged behind – Kimi Raikkonen near the bottom of the times following his spin in free practice three. But Raikkonen was right back on the pace with his second lap, the fastest of the weekend so far, edging out Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton.

Jenson Button made it out of the bottom five in his Honda but Sebastien Bourdais failed to accompany Sebastian Vettel into Q2, lapping 1.3s slower than his team mate.

David Coulthard reached the second part of qualifying with a last-gasp improvement to put Piquet Jnr in the bottom five by 0.009s.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’46.037
17. Sebastien Bourdais 1’46.389
18. Rubens Barrichello 1’46.583
19. Adrian Sutil 1’47.940
20. Giancarlo Fisichella no time

Part two

Fernando Alonso went out early in Q2 with a car failure, ending his session and leaving him 15th on the grid next to team mate Piquet.

Hamilton also had a problem early on, missing the second corner and aborting his first attempt at a lap. Meanwhile the Ferraris took over the top of the time sheets with Massa ahead of Raikkonen.

Kovalainen then split the Ferraris with Sebastian Vettel taking fourth. But Hamilton was struggling, locking his brakes several times on his laps and managing only eighth. As other drivers improved Hamilton was left on the brink of elimination – falling to tenth, and just 0.1s away from being eliminated.

Neither of the Red Bulls made it through and both were beaten by Button, who put his Honda 12th. Jarno Trulli took 11th while team mate Timo Glock made it into the top ten.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Jarno Trulli 1’45.038
12. Jenson Button 1’45.133
13. David Coulthard 1’45.212
14. Mark Webber 1’45.298
15. Fernando Alonso no time

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Part three

The top ten for the final session featured the McLarens, Ferraris and BMWs as usual, plus both Williams, Glock and Vettel.

Vettel was the first to do a lap but his 1’46.614 was quickly beaten by Raikkonen. Hamilton went 0.4s faster than Hamilton but Massa edged him by just over a tenth of a second. Kovalainen meanwhile could only manage tenth.

On the second round of laps Raikkonen briefly took second but Hamilton found a lot of time in the final sector to grab provisional pole position.

That too proved fleeting as Massa was faster than everyone in every sector, taking pole position by over 0.6s.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’44.801
2. Lewis Hamilton 1’45.465
3. Kimi Raikkonen 1’45.617
4. Robert Kubica 1’45.779
5. Heikki Kovalainen 1’45.873
6. Nick Heidfeld 1’45.964
7. Sebastian Vettel 1’46.244
8. Timo Glock 1’46.328
9. Nico Rosberg 1’46.611
10. Kazuki Nakajima 1’47.547

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “Massa beats Hamilton to first Singapore pole by half a second”

  1. Massa by 0.6s??? Anyone have any idea why this is?

  2. Massa’s final lap looked a lot cleaner then Hamilton. He was barley using the run offs where Kimi and Hamilton were a hair’s width from crashing out.

    There must be a delay on speed. As soon as it was over I opened my browser and you had the post up. Did you pre write it or did it end a while ago?
    Its 20 past the hour right now.

  3. Either Massa is really low on fuel, or his lap was staggering!

  4. Pedro: I think it is both really, given what we know 0,3secs due to fuel and 0,3 due to the perfect lap? We’ll know tomorrow if he is 1-2 laps(means he drove perfectly) less fueled or 3-4 laps(means Kimi and Ham are equally quick on a different strategy).

  5. Low on fuel or not, Massa’s final lap was near perfect.

    What were McLaren up to in Q2, releasing Hamilton so late for his second attempt that he picked up traffic? Had Alonso’s car not blown, LH would be 11th off the grid tomorrow. Just now, McLaren/Lewis look set to self-destruct in the final races this year too.

  6. massa did a stunning lap…his race engineer suggested both merc and ferrari are pn similar stratergey so i guess he did do an awsome lap…

    mark suggested that ferrari is easier to drive thats a big plus for hot and humidrace plus a long turning track…

    ferrari are defifnitly looking stong…they shoul do well if nothing goes wrong..

    hamilton took it a bit easier and almost paid the price..i guess he didnt expect ferrari to be that strong here or he thoughthe had it al covered…

  7. Speed delays their broadcast to show an intro and to get the interviews in. TSN shows it live though.

    Hopefully Kimi gets past Hamilton at the start and passes Massa at the pits!

    Vettal looks like he is on a one stopper maybe…?

  8. Q2 relative to Q3 is usually the hint as to strategies. So aside from Lewis’s bad Q2 you can see that Massa was quicker by 0.2 on the rest. If anything he might be slightly lighter but should pull out a big enough gap by the time pits come around. If Kimi manages to force Lewis into an error it will be interesting to see how Lewis copes. I think Kimi is the heavier of the “Big 4”. Look for a surprise in Vettel. He could be running quite heavy and could push for a podium again especially if Kimi and Lewis tangle.

  9. clearly massa’s ferrari is low on fuel. I do not think massa will gain much advantage tommorow. using the run off area can be quick too, using it doesnt mean anything slow.

  10. Dan, Speed was lagging by about 8 minutes, looking at someone’s comments during the live blog.

  11. This is beginning to look like last year, I am not remotely going to suggest that Lewis “chokes” but the tail-end of his season last year had mistakes and he paid the price. Could be a repeat performance, guess time will tell?

    I’ve watched a little and I have to admit Bernie has got one F1 change right this year, it is rather exciting watch the cars race at night, wouldn’t want every race thus but it makes for a god change.

    Guess it is all up to the weather gods now

  12. I came across a F12008Gp stats.

    Mclarens has a good equipment, no questions here. People claims Hamilton as one of the F1 greaters. This is the 15th GP of the season. So, why on earth a non F1 material(Massa), according to the most part of the visitors of this site, has started 9 times ahead of supergod of hotwheels ?

  13. Even at an 8 minute delay Kieth managed to get this post up fast.

  14. Sterling lap by Massa, no two ways about it. I do also suspect he maybe lighter on fuel than Hamilton and Raikkonen but still, his lap was perfect.

    I think Hamilton and Raikkonen are on very similar fuel levels. Great to see the BMWs up where they belong too. Shame about Alonso. Yet again he was driving the wheels off that Renault, why oh why can he not be driving a competitive car. Such talent going to waste.

    For once I agree with Rider and Blundell: another disappointing effort from Kovalainen. He’s got such great equipment under him but he’s under-utilising it terribly. Plus, it would be handier for Hamilton’s cause if he could cause trouble for Ferrari but he just seems to never be in the picture.

  15. Fergus: Becouse there is a ‘UK’ in this blog url, perhaps? :D

  16. Apologies to Lewis/McLaren, apparently he was weighed ‘randomly’ in Q2 for the second time in succession, just when he least needed it.

  17. @ David

    I also heard that he was weighed in Q2 like in Italy… Very good random algorithm done by FIA :)

  18. Is the FIA now using the WEIGH BRIDGE as a determining factor in qualifying?

  19. Could be Massa trying a three-stop strategy?

  20. What is the fuel penalty per lap for singapore?

    I think, Massa should run away with the first stint; since Hamilton will be hounded by Kimi in this part.

    The rest of the race will be a cat-and-mouse game between Kimi and Lewis;

  21. Marko and Oliver

    I agree, without being paranoid, you’ve got to wonder how random these tests are. Hamilton was also ‘randomly’ selected for the first engine examination this season, just after his dominant performance at Silverstone and Hockenheim. What are the odds for this happening?

  22. Cameron aka. SkinBintin
    27th September 2008, 19:16

    What is this talk of the Weigh Bridge? Are people saying the FIA decided to weigh Lewis’s car during Q2 two race weekends in a row? Serious?

  23. I thought the weigh bridge is on an automated system.
    The computer has all of the drivers in it and randomly selects a minimum & maximum number of cars each session.

    That’s what I’d read somewhere anyway.

    I’d have to say no conspiracy on this one guys.

  24. Cameron and beneboy

    No doubt you’re both right about the random weighing. The random engine test struck me as very convenient, though.

  25. David, I think given the Spygate ruling on McLaren last year then they’re probably going to be more closely scrutinised than some other teams.

    Not saying I agree with it but it could be where the FIA are coming from.

    This could explain why they’ve had their engines checked before anyone else.

  26. The Joker in the race (Besides Kovy’s engine change) has to be Kimi. Will Kimi Banzai the start and attempt a dangerous pass on Massa, as he did at Spa? Or will he be a good soldier and block Hamilton to allow Felipe to gain a lead before the first pit stop?

    Can’t figure out Hamilton. As others have pointed out he seems to be nose diving as he did last year. Vettel on a one stopper is intriguing.

    The drama continues!

  27. Vettel may be betting on the race not going full distance.

    As has been stated before; this race is extremely long. So, the fuel consumed / minute is fairly lesser than average.

    He might make his first pit-stop on something like lap 25, and fuel himself up till lap 50-55, gambling on a safety car intervention.

  28. Looks like Bernie is going to use the success of Singapore to pressure the Japanese into having a night race too.

    Wonder if the Aussie’s will be getting more pressure to change the time of their race again, although given the location of their track it wouldn’t be popular with the residents.

  29. One of the most interesting and sensation qualifying day in F1… :)
    i am a bit scared about the pit-lane entry in the race though… :(

  30. how many laps is the race? running 1:45’s is around Spa’s time which is 44 laps, but you’re saying 55 laps?

  31. Ya, the pit lane entry might cause an accident tomorrow, it really is poorly designed. Also another area to watch out for is turn 10 on lap one, because literally only one car can safely make it through there at once.

    About qualifying on speed, it starts out about live but it slowly falls behind real time, and by the end of the broadcast it’s about half an hour behind. If you pay attention to the clock, you’ll see every time they go to break and come back, only about 10 seconds have passed on. After so many commercials, this adds up.

    Luckily the race is shown in real time, even if it means maybe missing something happening during a commercial break.

    Massa, I’m going to say he’s fueled one lap lighter than Hamilton and 2 less than Raikkonen. As he described it, his lap was perfect. Believe it or not there’s more variables for lap time than just fuel weight. Whoever gets through turn one first will win, boring as it may be.

  32. Heidfeld has been dropped 3 places on the grid for blocking Barrichello on one of his flying laps, Nick was entering the pits at the time so was much slower than Rubens.

    As Rubens entered the pits straight away in the incident he has also been fined $10,000 for not using the deceleration zone.

  33. So the revised grip is now:

    1. MASSA Ferrari
    2. HAMILTON McLaren
    3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari
    5. KOVALAINEN McLaren
    6. VETTEL Toro Rosso
    7. GLOCK Toyota
    8. ROSBERG Williams
    10. NAKAJIMA Williams
    11. TRULLI Toyota
    12. BUTTON Honda
    13. WEBBER Red Bull
    14. COULTHARD Red Bull
    15. ALONSO Renault
    16. PIQUET Renault
    17. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso
    18. BARRICHELLO Honda
    19. SUTIL Force India
    20. FISICHELLA Force India

    * after penalty (3 place drop) for impeding Barrichello.

    Things are now looking even better for Vettel who’s up to 6th on the grid, if he is on a heavy fuel load he could end up with a bag full of points tomorrow.

  34. Cameron aka. SkinBintin
    27th September 2008, 21:24

    Imagine another podium for Vettel? That would be amazing. I can Vettel becoming another serious title contender in the future which is great for the sport. These tight championship fights probably do good things for viewer numbers I imagine.

  35. If we get any incidents that bring the safety car out before the first pit stop then it could give him a very good chance to get on the podium.

    I’m with you Cameron, I’d be made up if he could get another podium finish.

    Can’t speak for anyone else but I love seeing several drivers pushing for the race win and the more of them fighting for the title the better.

  36. I agree w/ Jian. Half of Massa’s is due to fuel and half due to a tremendous lap, one of the best I have seen. He is probably no more than 2 laps lighter than Lewis and most probably only one lap. Still, it will be close tomorrow. I don’t think Massa will create such a big gap by the first pitstops. He is the favorite though, if it stays dry and warm.

  37. Wait, Heidfeld got penalized for using the pit lane entry? That’s why that entry is horrible, he didn’t do anything wrong! I’m sure everyone saw it, it was on the world feed. If you have to use the pit lane and someone is behind you, how exactly do you NOT impede them? It doesn’t seem possible.

  38. That’s what I thought Ben.

    Watching it on ITV it was obvious Rubens had been blocked but Nick looked to be taking the normal line into the pits so it just looked like an unavoidable incident.

    I think this may be why it’s only a 3 place penalty, Rubens was blocked but there were mitigating circumstances.

    Even so, still seems a bit harsh on Nick.

  39. I agree with comments about the pit lane entry but I am concerned about the exit – looks like it could cause cars coming down the straight to lift severly and possibly run wide if a car comes out last second.

  40. Pitlane entry has changed now for race. it will be 50 metres longer.

    Lewis and Massa is in more or less in same fule load.Kimi and Heikki a little bit heavier.

    Hamilton had a problem with softer tires again and seems that all drivers will use softer in the end of the race.

    How i know? Well i do not KNOW but i just quess and read finnish newspapers again lol.

  41. speed has a huge time delay in the is at least 7 minutes compared to brazil

  42. Hey guys! Good morning from Singapore! Quali last night was mega – except if you were one of the Lewis fans, who SURROUNDED us last night. But the Ferraristas were also well in attendance. Hamilton was scrappy all of last night, while Massa was… practically perfect. Sometimes I think Kimi and Felipe swapped helmets in an attempt to fool us all!

    Race tonight should be mega! …as long as the field doesn’t spread out too much…

  43. Carlos, thanks for the info on the time delay- disappointing but at least I’ll get to see the race in somewhat real time :)

    Snoopy- If I ever improve my language skills, I hereby resolve that the first language I will learn is Finnish. That way, I can understand all this inside info you are so kind to give us!!

    I said in my race prediction comment that Massa would struggle on a brand-new street track…well, so much for that……

    What’s more, we’ve got another Lewis vs. Kimi battle set up, should be interesting to watch.

  44. Massa’s definitely running light. His Q3 lap was 8 tenths slower than his Q2 lap, which isn’t all that much.

    Hamilton and Raikkonen, I think, are on the same fuel. Q3 lap is only a half-second slower than his Q2 lap, but that was due to his mistake going into one of the chicanes on his first crack at a Q2 hot lap and his being impeded by the Red Bulls on his other attempt at a Q2 lap. On that lap when he was impeded by the Red Bulls, he was on pace for a lap right at that set by Raikkonen and Kovalainen. This would have put his Q3 lap at about 1.2 seconds slower than his Q2 lap, so I’d say he’s probably running 2-3 laps heavier than Massa. Raikkonen’s lap was 1.4 seconds slower than his Q2 lap, but he made a slight mistake that cost him a couple of tenths.

  45. 36 – Ben Goldberg

    Wait, Heidfeld got penalized for using the pit lane entry? That’s why that entry is horrible, he didn’t do anything wrong! I’m sure everyone saw it, it was on the world feed. If you have to use the pit lane and someone is behind you, how exactly do you NOT impede them? It doesn’t seem possible.

    Agreed, I’ve hardly been a fan of any of the impeding during qualifying penalties, and think that the stewards should not be so ready to hand out penalties for it, but this case really is just stupid. He’s being penalised due to poor track design, rather than any fault of his own.
    I don’t remember traffic during qualifying ever being such an issue as it has been recently, partly due to car design, but also due to the qualifying format. (I miss the days when qualifying wasn’t so much designed for TV, but for sporting reasons)

  46. *sigh* Another stupid decision from F1 stewards…

  47. I think Kimi is way heavier on fuel than Lewis.
    Massa must be running ultra-light

  48. I’m sorry for Alonso (I just want to share this feeling)

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